Department of Health Skip to content

Please note that this website has a UK government access keys system.

The Wanless report: Securing good health for the whole population

  • Last modified date:
    29 October 2008

In March 2001 the Chancellor commissioned Derek Wanless to examine future health trends and to identify the key factors which will determine the financial and other resources required to ensure that the NHS can provide a publicly funded, comprehensive, high quality service available on the basis of clinical need and not ability to pay.

The principal conclusions of the Wanless Report (Securing our Future Health: Taking a Long-Term View) included a 'fully engaged' scenario associated with comparatively better health outcomes and a lower increase in costs.

In April 2003 Derek Wanless was asked to provide an update on implementing the 'fully engaged' scenario with a particular focus on public health measures and health inequalities, and this review Securing Good Health for the Whole Population was published in February 2004.

The review focused on prevention and the wider determinants of health in England and the cost effectiveness of action that can be taken to improve the health of the whole population and to reduce health inequalities.

On health inequalities, Wanless concluded that while it was too early to comment on progress of the Programme for Action, he suggested that the health inequalities target may be achievable on current policy albeit 'stretching'.

He said : 'action taken to tackle key conditions like circulatory disease and cancer….look set up to meet their respective targets and in doing so will go a long way towards meeting the life expectancy target.  Tackling key lifestyle factors such as smoking among disadvantaged groups will be absolutely vital in the longer term'.

He identified a number of challenges to the life expectancy element of the target:

  • Some interventions and services may not be reaching the most disadvantaged
  • Lack of knowledge about what interventions work for most disadvantaged groups
  • Interventions are too focused on the beginning and end of the life cycle, more needs to be done to reduce inequalities in other age cohorts
  • Lack of information about cost-effectiveness of interventions which hinders priority setting at local level

The current public health consultation Choosing Health? and the forthcoming White Paper will build upon and address the issues from the Wanless review.

Access keys